Effective strategic planning ensures Albury Preschool staff feel appreciated and heard

Located on Wiradjuri country, Albury Preschool collaborates with their staff and families to create a strategic plan that values relationships built between staff, children and each other.

Image: Staff at Albury Preschool

Director Jo Barton has been at the service for 22 years. She shared that progressive work over a number of years, including the development of strategic plans, has enhanced their support of staff.

"Your strategic plan is the overarching document on which you then base your daily tasks," Jo said.

"It's basically what informs your vision, and where your service is going as a whole – it’s the overarching information you need when planning your operating model."

"To create it, you need to consider the context of your service, where it’s based and the direction you want your service to go in."

Key to effectively reflecting the context of the service is having ongoing discussions with staff and families to ensure that all voices are heard and valued.

Jo shared that at Albury Preschool, this is achieved through a series of surveys.

"We conduct an annual survey to get feedback from our staff, and we always get a 100 percent response rate – they're very interested in being a part of the decision-making process," she said.

"We also survey families both directly after the orientation process and towards the end of the year."

This collaborative approach towards creating a strategic plan is just one way that Albury Preschool demonstrates mutual respect between management, educators and staff, in line with Element 4.2.1.

"Another priority for us is having a team-based decision-making process," Jo shared.

"One way we achieve this is by restructuring staff meetings to ensure that it’s team-based collaboration, and we use that time wisely."

"We don’t get a lot of whole group staff meetings, so we keep them focused on professional development, reflection and growth, and keep the everyday housekeeping items to emails or team chats."

"Having the opportunity to share thoughts and reflect on our practices as a team definitely impacts the wellbeing of our staff."

The staff-centred focus followed by Albury Preschool has created an environment in which there is exceptional continuity of staff (Element 4.1.2).

"We have longevity of staff because our team feel very satisfied and valued by management personnel, which also helps us attract new staff," Jo said.

"This satisfaction comes from us constantly seeking and being guided by their opinions, as well as ensuring that their professionalism and qualifications are recognised through pay and conditions."

"This continuity of staff ties in with our philosophy which is all about relationships both with families and the children."

"These relationships are what we value the most, as that's how we believe children learn best: by developing and maintaining those relationships."

The families and community of Albury Preschool have recognised the quality and continuity of staff at the service, which sees a high volume of returning families.

"We get brothers and sisters and cousins, all sorts of family members who continue to come back to us based on word-of-mouth recommendations,” Jo shared.

"For me and a few other staff, we’re even seeing some of our former children now starting to enrol their own children."

"It’s lovely to see these families identifying our staff and the beautiful relationships they build with the children, families and each other as worth coming back for."

Image: Staff at Albury Preschool
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